If the days of service with a smile seem long gone, then consider Carl Craig old school. From his clap-happy Rolands to “Thank you, come again!” cheer, he is to contemporary dance music what Kennedy is to Nixon: a pastime paradise. Not to bar Craig, who got his start in Detroit in the late ’80s, from his place in the present – his attention to mood and mastery of texture remains both radical and delicious. I am certainly not insinuating that there is an absence of smiles on his dance floors today – been to a Craig show lately? Rather, his dedicated spirit and his unwavering love for the club seem increasingly inimitable at a time when emotionally distant music and capital-driven musicians flourish.
Listening to Fabric 25, his contribution to the mix series of the homonymous London club and label, Craig’s continued relevance becomes clear in his ability to balance yesterday’s sunshine love with today’s darker pleasures. To keep the blend in the now, he opens with the Ying Yang Twins’ over-the-top “Wait,” but Craig only allows one verse to run before erupting in a fit of laughter, a knowing wink that the elder statesman is in on the joke: your Laffy Taffy is my Double Dutch.
Subsequently, he switches up his beat selection: from the crisp skip of Kerri Chandler’s “Bar a Thym” to the Afro-step of Africanism’s “Imabalaye” and onto the warehouse ping-pong of his own “Darkness” (Max Mix). As Craig cruises with the greatest of ease, adding subtle harmonic and rhythmic flourishes to flesh out each track, he gushes like a first-time deejay on each of his drops: “Aw yeah, here come the drums! Oh, wait, not yet.” This combination of endearing enthusiasm and crafted mixes marks another notch in the belt for the master and another point of study for the apprentices.
Planet E Communications (label owned by Carl Craig) Web site